Our young client was extracted from her vehicle and taken for immediate surgery. The semi-truck driver testified that the accident was to due to our client’s distraction. We proved this testimony false by reconstructing a 16-camera video surveillance from the scene of the accident.

Attorneys Experienced in Fatal Truck Accidents

A Fatal Truck Accident Attorney in Indianapolis Who Can Get the Results You Need

Your chances of being in a fatal traffic accident are much higher when a commercial truck is involved. Each truck contains tens of thousands of pounds of accelerated machinery and can easily cause injury and death in the case of an accident. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), large trucks cause nearly 5,000 fatalities yearly. Negligence is typically present when these accidents occur. When it is, a fatal truck accident lawyer in Indianapolis can help the decedent’s loved ones find justice.

Common Causes of Truck Accident Fatalities

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a groundbreaking Large Truck Crash Causation study, analyzing extensive data from 1,000 serious large truck accidents. The study identified the most common causes of these accidents:

Driver Error

Many truck accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities are attributed to driver non-performance, including falling asleep, sudden medical conditions, or other physical impairments. Additionally, problems with driver recognition, like inattention, distractions, or failure to properly assess situations, were significant contributors to numerous accidents. Poor decision-making skills among truck drivers also played a role. For instance, the study revealed that many accidents involved:

  • Exceeding the safe speeds in dangerous conditions
  • Miscalculating the speed of other vehicles
  • Following too closely.

Driver proficiency and performance were closely tied to serious truck accidents as well. For instance, truck drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol pose a significant risk to other motorists and account for a notable percentage of fatal truck accidents yearly. Similarly, distracted driving is a factor in many truck accidents, though it is often difficult to quantify because truckers rarely admit to distraction. An experienced Indiana truck accident attorney can assist grieving families by conducting a comprehensive inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the accident.

Environmental Factors

Certain environmental conditions, such as severe weather, road defects, and adverse traffic conditions, elevate the likelihood of a truck accident. While some of these factors are not foreseeable, like sudden and unexpected weather events, others arise from negligence.

Vehicle Deficiencies

The study also revealed that faulty truck components can pose a significant risk to other drivers. Issues like subpar design, malfunctioning brakes, worn-out tires, and other defects heighten the chances of severe accidents and injuries.

In addition to these primary factors, numerous secondary elements can amplify the severity of an accident.

Why Choose Us?

We Recover the Compensation You Need to Effectively Deal with Your Losses

Stephenson Rife LLP works extremely hard not to leave any compensation on the table when representing clients. When we take your case, we take great care in identifying every compensable damage you are entitled to, and we fight to get you a timely payout.

Our experience in truck accident cases is long and successful. We have recovered millions of dollars for many clients who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves dealing with the terrible aftermath of a commercial truck accident.

When you choose Stephenson Rife to represent you, you get a firm with:

  • Years of experience representing victims of truck accidents
  • A significant history of multimillion-dollar compensation awards
  • Personalized care for clients
  • Industry-leading fatal truck accident lawyers.

We offer complimentary consultations and case reviews. Call our office today at (317) 680-2350 to find out what our fatal truck accident lawyers can do for you.

Compensation for Your Losses

Death is the ultimate loss. It typically has life-impacting consequences for the loved ones of the decedent. These consequences take a financial and emotional toll on people, often preventing them from living their lives to the fullest and enjoying the financial benefits that were available to them when their loved one was alive.

If you have lost someone in a fatal truck accident, you are likely suffering from these consequences and in desperate need of relief. Fortunately, compensation is available to help you push through your losses. Although no amount of money can bring your loved one back, financial compensation will help you fill in some of the gaps left by their passing.

Wrongful Death Suits: How We Can Help

When a person dies, someone else must seek justice on their behalf. In Indiana, only certain individuals may file a wrongful death suit. If the decedent is an adult, then a personal representative, also known as an executor, is the only person authorized to take legal action.

The deceased individual often chooses a personal representative before they pass away. Family members, close friends, and business or work colleagues frequently serve as personal representatives. However, not all those who pass away have designated a personal representative. In these cases, the court appoints one.

In Indiana, wrongful death is defined as a fatality resulting from a negligent act or failure to act by an individual, business, or entity. Indiana has three distinct statutes governing wrongful death cases:

  • Indiana’s General Wrongful Death Statute: This statute provides benefits exclusively for the surviving spouse, dependent children, or closest relatives of the deceased.
  • Indiana’s Child Wrongful Death Statute: This statute acknowledges a parent’s right to seek compensation for the loss of their child. It defines a “child” as an unmarried individual under 20 or 23 years of age if currently enrolled in college or technical school. An amendment in July 2009 expanded the definition to include a viable fetus.
  • Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute: This is the most recent version of Indiana’s wrongful death law. It addresses situations where the deceased had no surviving spouse, dependent child, or closest relative or did not meet the criteria to be considered a “child.” The statute allows recovery for the non-dependent parent or non-dependent child of the deceased adult.

These statutes are distinct and cannot be pursued simultaneously. The legal action is initiated by the estate or personal representative of the deceased on behalf of qualifying family members. Essentially, wrongful death claims are applicable in cases where, if the victim had survived, they would have had a valid personal injury claim against the responsible party.

When you first meet with a fatal truck accident attorney in Indianapolis from Stephenson Rife, we will help you understand your options for filing a wrongful death suit based on the circumstances of your situation. Call our office today at (317) 680-2350 to learn more about what our fatal truck accident lawyers can do for you.

Economic Damages

Death brings economic loss. However, not all economic losses are compensable in Indiana. Additionally, the losses you can claim vary, depending on who the victim was.

In all cases, victims’ families are entitled to recoup the costs of reasonable medical expenses for end-of-life care as well as reasonable funeral and burial costs. However, damages such as lost future wages and support are available only when a decedent was married or had dependents.

Other potential damages available when an adult dies include:

  • Loss of services
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Costs of administering the estate.

When the victim is a child, parents may seek loss of services, damages for services the child provides to the family business, costs for psychiatric counseling, and proceeds for a child’s uninsured debts.

Non-Economic Damages

Loved ones of a decedent lose access to many non-pecuniary benefits that are just as important as the financial ones. Indiana law allows you to seek compensation for many of these losses. As with economic damages, it matters whether the victim was an adult or a child.

Standard non-economic losses available in Indiana wrongful death claims include:

  • Loss of love and companionship
  • Loss of a child’s love and companionship
  • Loss of love, care, and affection.

Damages for pain, suffering, and grief are not available in wrongful death cases in Indiana. The same holds true for punitive damages.

Liability for Fatal Truck Accidents

When you pursue compensation for your claim, your fatal truck accident lawyer must demonstrate that someone was at fault for your loss. Depending on the circumstances of your case, various parties may be held responsible.

Truck Driver

The truck driver is typically the starting point in liability investigations. These motorists owe a particularly high duty of care to others on the road. Duty of care refers to the obligation all individuals have toward one another. It requires people to behave in a manner that does not create unreasonable risks for others.

All motorists owe a duty of care to each other. However, a commercial truck driver must follow additional requirements to fulfill their duty to others. In addition to obeying the standard rules of the road, commercial truck drivers must also:

  • Obey strict hours-of-operation rules that limit their allowable daily driving hours
  • Maintain a log book of their hours of operation and rest
  • Perform daily safety vehicle checks
  • Maintain their vehicle in a safe condition
  • Obtain and maintain commercial driver permits and endorsements.

The heightened requirements for commercial drivers are justified by the unforgiving power of the trucks they operate. The average stopping distance for a loaded tractor-trailer going 55 mph is more than 60 feet farther than the average sedan. Special brakes are needed for many commercial trucks.

When a truck driver fails to comply with their important duties and causes a fatality, they can be held to pay. However, their status as an employee or independent contractor will greatly influence who will be the parties named in your case for compensation.

Truck Driver’s Employer

If the truck driver who caused your accident is an employee of a shipping or trucking company, your fatal truck accident attorney in Indianapolis can likely sue the company for compensation. However, strict rules and conditions must be fulfilled before the employer can face liability.

First and foremost, the truck driver must be an employee of the company and not an independent contractor. The shipping or trucking company is likely off the hook if they are an independent contractor. Additionally, the truck driver must have caused the fatality while operating within the scope of their employment. For example, if a truck driver is off the clock, their actions cannot be imputed to the employer.

Also, the truck driver must not have intended to cause the accident if the employer is to be sued. Purposeful actions of a truck driver that are intended to cause a crash typically mean the employer cannot be held liable.

Other ways an employer can be held liable for a fatal truck crash include having an inadequate fleet maintenance schedule, failure to adequately train, and failure to require and enforce federal and state driver qualification requirements.

Third-Party Actors

Commercial trucks have numerous moving parts that are essential for their safe operation. Regular maintenance keeps these parts in proper working order. However, no amount of maintenance can make a faulty piece of equipment work correctly.

Truck and truck equipment manufacturers and designers have a duty to ensure their products are free from dangerous defects. Sadly, many fatal truck accidents come about due to manufacturing or design errors. When accidents of this nature occur, fatal truck lawyers may also potentially pursue compensation from the manufacturer, designer, or other actors in the supply chain.

Regardless of how the fatality occurred, your fatal truck accident attorney in Indianapolis will pinpoint the liable party or parties and hold them accountable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Take a look at the following questions and answers to learn more about holding negligent truck drivers accountable for the terrible losses they cause.

Is there a time limit for filing a fatal truck accident case in Indiana?

Yes. Indiana has a statute of limitations of two years for wrongful death cases. Once two years have passed, your right to demand compensation disappears except under very limited circumstances.

Can I afford a fatal truck accident lawyer?

Yes. It costs no money upfront to pursue your wrongful death claim. Stephenson Rife advances all of the court costs and other expenses required to pursue your claim. When you receive your settlement or verdict, we subtract our fees and the advanced cost from your award.

How much compensation is available for fatal truck accidents?

It depends on what damages you can claim and the experience of your fatal car accident lawyer. A seasoned fatal truck accident attorney in Indianapolis knows how to maximize your claim in order to get you more money for your losses. To get an idea of how much compensation you might receive, schedule a free, no-strings consultation with our fatal truck accident lawyer.

How long does a fatal truck accident case take to resolve?

This answer depends on the complexity of your case. Your wrongful death case could be resolved in a matter of a few months. However, certain issues can lead to drawn-out proceedings that could require a year or more to settle.

Call Stephenson Rife for more answers to your questions. A fatal truck accident lawyer in Indianapolis is ready to speak with you.

How Stephenson Rife Can Help

We Give You the Peace of Mind You Need to Properly Grieve.

As you know, life moves on after death. But you need time to grieve and adjust. Stephenson Rife is there to make sure your rights and interests are honored after a fatality. We will vigorously represent you while you mourn and take care of important affairs.

Some of the main tasks we handle for you include:

  • Investigating the crash scene and gathering evidence
  • Hiring experts to testify or recreate your accident
  • Managing all important documents and paperwork for your case
  • Taking depositions
  • Negotiating for a proper settlement.

We also keep you fully up to date on the progress of your wrongful death suit and give you a direct line to our fatal truck accident lawyers.

You don’t have to shoulder the responsibility of getting justice for your loss. Trust Stephenson Rife to get you the compensation you deserve.

Speak With a Fatal Truck Accident Lawyer in Indianapolis Today

Take the First Step Toward Justice for Your Loved One

In the wake of a tragic truck accident claiming the life of a loved one in Indiana, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to seek support. Stephenson Rife understands the immense pain you’re going through and is here to assist.

Our compassionate wrongful death attorneys have extensive experience helping grieving families seek the financial justice they deserve. We handle many wrongful death cases, including those stemming from fatal truck accidents. For more information and to arrange a free consultation, contact Stephenson Rife at (317) 680-2350.

Attorney Mike Stephenson

Attorney Mike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, just to name a few. Mike is a proven advocate and trial attorney. He has served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and has handled litigation in 18 states. [ Attorney Bio ]